At the Movies to Avenge the Public's Rejection of the Two BensS

You want serious critics?! You sure you want 'em? How bad do you want 'em? We rose up against the frivolity of Bens Mankiewicz and Lyons. And now meet the This-Is-Cinema dream team — A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips.

To recap, last year America saw the nearest thing we've had to a revolution caused by people upset over the ruining of a movie reviewers chat show, when At The Movies replaced its beloved icons of decades, the inventors of the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down scale Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, with two smirking meatheads who looked like the only thing they wanted to debate about film was Megan Fox's cup size.

Heeding the outbreak of fury from its audience, At the Movies producers duly awarded the Bens their one way tickets to Palookaville. But then taking perhaps the audiences demands for more seriousness a bit too much to heart, brought in our new Movie Critic Overlords - venerable, scholarly, erudite AO Scott of the New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune.

In a simpler time, one might have thought there would be some middle ground between Frat Party and The Grad School Profs Still Talking Hours After the Dinner Has Been Cleared And Not Noticing Their Wives Have Passed Out in Their Seats. But in this age, such a choice is not to be had.

At The Moviesis whetting out appetite for some good old critical banter about about Le Cinema with a video introducing their new critics, from the New York Times and Chicago Tribune. Strangely, they only drop Scott's New York Times credential five times during the five minute video. If these people are truly going to pull off a highbrow show, they're going to have to find a way to get that up to once every twenty seconds.

The video sets the new season's scenario with the irresistible tag line "Two Accomplished Critics. One Stimulating Discussion." With a premise like that, who needs a script?

Some saliva-inducing high points:

  • "Serious reviews from serious journalists" promises the voice over as the feeling sinks in this is going to be a very long evening.
  • Scott recalls seeing Fantasia and Willie Wonka as a child and realizing "movies are an art form that can make fantasies real." He omits from story the ass-whooping he received. the next day on the school bus when he shared that realization with his friends.
  • More on the youth of AO Scott: "I got interested in a very early age in reading film criticism...and I found that criticism was something that I really enjoyed."
  • A whistful retelling of Scott's historic journey from the depths of writing for Slate to the aforementioned New York Times after a critical essay on Martin Scorsese caught the culture editor's eye, and Phillips travels across the landscape of American newspapers.
  • On what makes At The Movies such a beloved national treasure, Scott says, "The show has always, I think, stood for critical intelligence brought to this popular medium of television in a way that's accessible, clear and fun." And who wouldn't think that's a hoot and a half?
  • Phillips on Scott: "I can not wait because he works at such a high level of critical acumen."
  • Phillips suggest that the show may actually redefine TV chat as we know it. "You get the debate going to right way, it's not going to be two way, it's going to be three way. Us two, and the viewers."

Let the jocularity commence!